HOW TO SPOT A FAKE ROLEX
Even if you're not a watch aficionado, chances are you've heard of the Swiss brand Rolex.
Rolex is a widely known status symbol, with over 700,000 of its timepieces pumped out annually. It’s also one of the most counterfeited watch brands out there. Rolex watches are one of the most sought-out luxury items in the world. As a result, there is a huge market for replica (fake) Rolex watches.
Most replicas are made in China and they typically sell between $25 to $200 and the quality has gotten increasingly better over the past years. The Rolex Datejust and Rolex Submariner are prime targets for these replicas.
Even experienced dealers can get fooled by bogus watches. While some replicas are easy to spot right away, other more sophisticated counterfeit Rolex watches may be much harder to identify. To help protect yourself from dishonest sellers and imitation merchandise, here are a few detailed examples of how to spot a fake Rolex from a genuine timepiece.
The easiest first few surface ways to spot a fake Rolex are:
THE PRICE: If you’re looking at a Rolex and it is being sold for three hundred dollars or less, then it is almost certain to be a fake Rolex. The simple truth is that luxurious Rolex watch models are not inexpensive items so if the deal sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Be careful. An easy way to check is to find a similar model watch on our website and see what they are being priced at. You can also visit eBay to see what similar items have sold for. Real, genuine, 100% authentic watches, even used, start at about $2,000 minimum on our site.
When the fake watch is sold for over $700 that you will need to take your purchase to a watchmaker so he or she can remove the back of the Rolex and view the inner movements to know for sure if it’s a counterfeit or not.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION! Just like in real estate “Location. Location. Location” is very, very important with watches. If you’re buying a Rolex on a side alley or at a local swap meet the chances are a lot higher that this watch is a fake. You are much better off buying a watch from a reputable business that has a good reputation to uphold. BUY FROM A REPUTABLE, TRUSTED SELLER… LIKE US. There are plenty of reputable dealers, but it never hurts to do your homework to ensure that you get a genuine timepiece. Google does a very good job of showing you the most established, trusted retailers to help safeguard against non-genuine models from entering the market.
At Brilliance Jewels, we provide a GUARANTEE OF AUTHENTICITY, A 24 MONTH WARRANTY, CERTIFIED APPRAISAL, and mostly always original paperwork and boxes by Rolex itself. Our in-house buyers meticulously inspect each watch in our inventory.
Here is a fun first-look test for you:
Which is real?
Now compare them both. Which one do you think is real?
If you said Image A, you are correct! At first glance, here are the reasons why:
1. The magnification / Cyclops
On Rolex watches with a date (DateJust, Submariner, etc…) the date has to be very small to work properly and so Rolex adds a magnification glass, or Cyclops window, to allow the wearer to see it more easily. Therefore, a cyclops window, or magnifier, is added to make the date more visible. On all Rolex models the magnification is 2.5X and the date really jumps out at you. On fakes this is often set to just 1.5X, so the date is harder to see.
The cyclops on the left does not magnify the date enough. A real Rolex would magnify the date by 2.5 times
The Rolex cyclops is the magnifying lens above the date window on the face of their watches. On a genuine Rolex, the Cyclops is convex and magnifies the date 2.5 times for ease of readability. If you notice that the magnification lens is flat and the date isn’t magnified as such, then you are looking at a fake. To spot counterfeit watches you need to pay close attention to every detail.
2. The weight: If it feels light, it isn’t right.
“Fake Rolex watches are generally lighter, whereas a real Rolex is made of high-quality metals, and will weigh significantly more,” William May said.
Real vs Fake Rolex Weight
A fake Rolex watch will feel lighter and flimsy due to cheaper construction materials. A genuine Rolex only uses the finest materials in construction and craftsmanship, therefore the quality feels more durable.
3. The Serial Number Hallmarks
Everything on a Rolex is made to perfection, and if you take a magnifying glass and examine all the lettering on the dial, you’ll be able to spot a fake if there are any imperfections. There are usually some engravings on the interior of the band of the watch towards the actual face, but to see the engravings for the serial and model number you have to take off the band. Taking off the band is relatively simple, you just need a thumb tack with which u can push in the joints holding the band to the watch through the holes on the side of the watch or the bottom of the watch if there are no holes. Once you have it open you should examine the engravings with a magnifying glass. They shouldn’t appear sandy or misshapen. The serial and model numbers on a genuine Rolex are deep and perfectly marked in solid, very fine lines that will actually glow in the light at an angle like a diamond cut edge. You should also use this model number when you look up the watch to check if it’s the right one. The model number is on the 12 o’clock side of the watch.
The numbers on a fake or replica are typically made up of faint tiny dots due to a lower quality marking process. In other cases, these numbers on counterfeit watches will have a sandy-like appearance from being “acid etched” as shown in the photo above on the left.
Real vs Fake Rolex Stampings
Replica watches come in different grades and the really low-quality phony ones don’t even bother to put the Rolex name or famous crown logo on the watch. This, of course, is a dead giveaway that you are dealing with an inauthentic piece.
5. Movement / Inner Workings
You need special tools to view this one. With special Rolex tools you can unscrew the case back and view the gears and inner workings of the watch. Everything should generally be different colors and again everything should be perfect. There should be an engraving on the inside of the watch that says something like “Geneva, Switzerland” the metal type and the model number. This engraving should be perfect as well. View the pictures below to see what the inside should look like.
The inside of your Rolex should look like this!
If you open up a watch, the movements should be a dead giveaway.
The movement that powers a Rolex is an exercise in master watchmaking skill. A replica watch cannot match the craftsmanship, dedication, precision, and knowledge invested into each genuine caliber bona fide movement will always have “Rolex” engraved on it, which you can only see if you open up the watch.
Something else to consider is that the majority of the brands watches have mechanical movements, so if you’re looking at a quartz, that could be a red flag since only a very limited quantity of quartz watches throughout their history have been produced.
You can tell the watch of the left is fake because of the difference in quality. The dial of an original is perfect, so if you see any uneven fonts, inconsistent spaces between the lettering, smudges, and/or misspellings on the watch then it is absolutely a fake.
Everything on a Rolex is made to perfection. Without having to open up the watch it is easy to see this from the writing on the dial distinguishing the model and other features. With a magnifying glass examine all the lettering on the dial. The writing should be convex (outward) and there should be no bubbling. It should be relatively pristine. If the writing is far from perfect then you know you are not dealing with a real Rolex.
7. Water Resilience
A Rolex Submariner undergoing a water test
Although Rolex Submariner timepieces are the only watches designed for deep see diving all models like the Rolex Yachtmaster are waterproof and perfectly sealed. Once you have the watch dip it in a cup of water for a few seconds and take it out. Before doing this, PLEASE be sure that the crown is securely tightened/screwed in. If there is any leaking of water into the watch on the dial or anything the watch is definitely a fake. All Rolex watches are 100% water tight and some counterfeit watches are not.
Rolex wristwatches are built to be waterproof, while forged versions will not withstand a proper water test. However, we strongly discourage using a water test if you doubt that the piece is real since it will likely ruin the watch, preventing you from being able to return it. If you believe you have a non-genuine timepiece have it inspected by a reputable professional.
With the exception of a couple of very rare vintage models produced in the 1930s, Rolex does not equip their watches with clear casebacks, so beware of replica watches that have a clear window with a view of the movement on the back of the watch’s case.
A real Rolex will almost never have engraving on the back. Engravings on the back almost always mean the watch is a forgery.
Except for just a few rare instances, like the vintage Rolex Sea Dweller, COMEX, Military watches and some older rare models, Rolex does not engrave the exterior of their casebacks with words, logos, or pictures (a majority of the time). If the watch you’re looking at has engravings on the back of the watches case, then chances are you have a fake Rolex or imitation replica watch. In addition, some authentic older lady Rolex Datejust models like the 6917, 69173 and 69174 have “Stainless Steel” and “Registered Design” on the back.
9. Micro-etched Crystal
Micro Etched Crystal
In 2002, Rolex began micro-etching a tiny crown logo at the 6 o’clock position on the crystal that protects the dial. If you’re looking at buying a Rolex made in 2002 onward, look for this marking for proof of authenticity. Since it’s so small, it is difficult to see with the naked eye. This detail also makes it difficult for counterfeit watches to include.
10. The METAL & Model
Often times counterfeited Rolex watches will try to cheap out by making a normally expensive model in cheaper metals to gain more profit. You should always check the model number of the Rolex you are buying online to make sure that it matches up with type of metal in the watch you are buying. A rule of thumb with the commonly counterfeited Rolex President: All Rolex President watches with the day (Monday, Tuesday, etc…) and the date (21,22,23…) are made out of platinum or gold not stainless steel and not two tone. If someone tries to sell you a stainless President they are cheating you.
LAST BUT NOT LEAST, AN EASY TELL-TALE SIGN: THE TICKING!!!
Listen closely. If you hear loud ticking from your watch this Rolex is a definite fake. Rolex watches do not make the ticking noises common with other watches. Counterfeiters can’t often perfect the gears and so a ticking noise is made and this can really help you spot fakes quite easily.
Misconceptions: One the biggest misconception is that the second hand of Rolex watches is a perfect sweep. This is not true most models of Rolex tick at eight ticks or movements per second so it is not a continuous sweep. Also some models move at slower speeds.